Lagos, Nigeria– The curtains have been drawn on the maiden edition of the Sahara Innovation Week, an initiative birthed with a vision to foster knowledge sharing and inventions that boost Sahara’s value proposition globally, with Sahara’s first Innovation Hackathon producing winners across the Group.
The Hackathon which focused on service excellence around operational efficiency, customer experience and data optimisation & monetisation, attracted various submissions from different teams across the Group, and after rigorous assessment by various judges, Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc emerged as overall winners.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Executive Director, Kola Adesina stated that “to reach greater heights, and to stay relevant, we must embrace innovation,” reiterating that Management would support innovative ideas and transform them for optimized implementation. Adesina disclosed that Management would transform the overall winning idea into a business enterprise in which the innovators will have shares.
The winners include Ayodele Alonge and Opeyemi Adaramola of Team BRAVO from Centrum Properties Limited, Ernest Efenador of Team OXYGEN from Egbin Power Plc, Chiedozie Ilechie, Chukwuemeka Azodo and Terkuma Ivande of Team REMACS from First Independent Power Limited, and Mobolaji Fayomade, Emmanuel Oyerinde and Chijioke Emeruwa of Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc.
The top four winning teams went home with $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. Emphasizing the importance of technology and innovation to the future of Sahara Group, Executive Director, Temitope Shonubi said: “We see technology as that system that makes things better, easier, improves customer efficiency and operational effectiveness. This will drive what we do much more in the coming years at Sahara”.
Ayodele Alonge, one of the winners, from Centrum Properties Limited, the real estate arm of the Group, described the Hackathon as a challenging and rewarding exercise. “This award has changed my life. In fact, I’ll be adding this achievement to my LinkedIn profile ‘Sahara Innovation Week winner, 2019’,”she stated.
Other activities including Innovation Trivia, where winners went home with virtual reality gift items, Innovation showcase and knowledge sharing sessions, provided useful insight into the innovation path to Sahara’s future.
Sahara Foundation Launches Sahara Regenerator Technical Program (STRP) To Combat Climate Change, Boost Employment
Sahara Foundation, the corporate citizenship vehicle of energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, has launched its inaugural Sahara Regenerator Technical Program (STRP) to promote capacity building among youths in Edo, Lagos and Rivers in Nigeria.
STRP will give beneficiaries a platform to develop technical skills in the installation and maintenance of meter and solar systems to enhance energy access, combat climate change and promote economic development in Nigeria.
With unemployment rate standing at 33.3% as of Q4 2020 and anticipated to hit 35% this year, experts say Nigeria needs to provide ample entrepreneurial opportunities for its teeming youth population.
Targeted at 120 youths with informal/minimal education, the project is also expected to help empower beneficiaries with resources to build sustainable businesses and ultimately become employers of labour.
Sahara Foundation will partner with leading African academy, the Energy Training Centre (ETC) and the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) to implement STRP.
According to Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group, “the regenerator program comes at a crucial time where a gap exists in the technical skills needed to implement efforts aimed at providing clean energy through solar and bridging Nigeria’s significant metering gap. We are delighted at the opportunity to mould the next group of entrepreneurs in the power sector in line with Sahara Group’s vision to promote green energy and environmental sustainability.”
In 2020, Sahara Foundation revised its focus areas to two key pillars for all interventions going forward: Access to Energy and Promoting Sustainable Environments in alignment with our Group’s core vision.
Participants will develop competencies in the installation of single and three phase meters in residential and small commercial premises. The Solar PV Installation Technician program will train individuals to provide excellent service for residential and small commercial solar installations.
According to ETC’s Managing Director, Ibiene Okeleke, “ETC is excited to partner with Sahara Foundation in building capacity in their communities through these two programmes. The project will drive inclusive growth, poverty reduction through job creation and support the global energy transition mandate to provide cleaner forms of energy and aggressively reduce carbon emissions. We are proud to be associated with Sahara Foundation on this mission.”
Lande Abudu, REAN’s Executive Secretary stated that “having long recognised the importance of capacity building towards achieving universal access to energy, it is fitting that we combine efforts to enhance skills development in Nigeria. At REAN, we recognise the importance of collaborations and partnerships to reach shared goals. We are excited to work with Sahara Foundation and look forward to the positive outcomes that will certainly result from the programme.”
Applications for STRP will be open from June 11, 2021, to June 25, 2021 and can be submitted online or picked up and submitted at Sahara Group’s offices in the designated states. Interested participants can also visit www.ujanahub.com/strp and Sahara Foundation’s social media handle @iamsaharafdn for more information.
NASME Women Celebrates International Women’s Day 2021 with Empowered Women Event
L-R Mrs Victoria Oluwasanya – immediate past Vice Chairman of NASME Lagos, Mr. Solomon Aderoju – immediate past Chairman NASME Lagos, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan – National Women Coordinator NASME, Sir. Prince Degun Agboade – National President- NASME, Dr. Adams Adebayo – Chairman NASME Lagos, Mrs Wumi Oluwadare – 2nd Vice Chairman NASME Lagos. (Source: NASME/Dr. Jumoke Kassim)
Every March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. An annual call to action for gender parity across the world. These actions range from marches and protests to advocacy and campaigns. This year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme was tagged – “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” with the campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge. On the 12th March 2021, the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) marked this year’s international women’s day 2021 with an event organised and coordinated by the NASME Women (Lagos WING).
Due to the global pandemic (COVID-19), the event took place both physically and virtually in line with the government COVID-19 safety protocol. The physical event was held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos while several guests joined virtually (Zoom) from different parts of the world. The NASME’s topic was on “Women, Family Law & Property Rights”.
Hajia Yinka Paramole-Shabi, the moderator for the day, commenced with an introduction of guests, speakers and how essential it was for NASME to have a women wing. The purpose of which is to have enviable women in business who can stand out among the male gender. She appreciated the support of the NASME president, a man that has been the backbone for the creation of the NASME Women Wing.
The Host and NASME Lagos Women Coordinator, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan in her opening speech explained why women should start challenging the status quo. She pointed out that women are not here to compete with their male counterpart. But are only demanding for a space on the table because it has been proven that what a man can do, a woman can do same, even much better. She believes 75% of what some women do these 3C’s jobs: Clearing, Cleaning and Chores that are not paid, because the world sees them as the weakest link. She gave some examples of women challenging the Status Quo in their respective industry. She mentioned Capt. Agbelusi who was one of the guests at their event in 2019 and her impact in the aviation industry. She concluded by saying “We need a gender balanced society” and left the audience with these three (3) parting words; Be prepared, Make sure your account is alright and Make the man know we are choosing to challenge.
NASME National President, Prince Degun Adeagbo in his speech extols the key roles women play at home, workplace and in the society at large. He said more women should choose to challenge the gender bias, inclusion and parity. He believes their aspirations can be achieved when women work together through different organisations as NASME and urged them to be a part of the community. Prince Degun admonished the Lagos women wing for their impact. On behalf of NASME, he appeals to the Government but at the federal and state to do everything possible to get more women involved in governance by lowering the bar. In future, he wants to see a woman become the President of NASME.
Mrs. Modupe Oyekunle is an industrialist and currently the National Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN). She shared her thoughts on why it is important to choose to challenge the status quo with emphasis on financial inclusion and diversity. Mrs. Oyekunle also spoke about the Passage of the bill on women national business agenda with 5 key focus areas; High rate of insecurity, Gender inequality, power and infrastructural facilities. She encouraged more women organization to work together in pursuit of the common set goals.
The Hon. Commissioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande was represented by Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunmodede, a Director in the Ministry of commerce.
Mrs. Angela EMUWA, Chairman at Punch Nigeria Limited appreciated all the men supporting women who are challenging the status quo. She talked about the challenges and biases women face in the society. She emphasized on the role’s women play and why they should be given a space.
Dr. Adeyemi Agbelusi’s presentation was on the topic “Women, Family Law & Human Right” and how the law does not favour the women in our society. In terms of surrogacy, adoption, settlement after marriage divorce, Right & interest to property. He urged women to pay more attention to Cultural & financial intelligence before going into any kind of relationships.
The NASME event ended with an award ceremony where two of its members were awarded a plaque and some cash to support their business.
The first awardee is Mrs. Adesanya Modupe Olusola who lost everything in her piggery business during the (COVID-19) lockdown, as a result of Swine Flu that killed all her pigs. She said the award came to her as a surprise and the fund will put her back on her feet and appreciates platforms such as the NASME that provides women with so many empowerment opportunities. According to her, one way women can choose to challenge is by challenging their children to do great things. She advises women in a male-dominated industry with this saying, “Whatever needs to be done needs to be done well.”
Mrs. Mitana Blessing Matthew, the second awardee is the co-Founder of Authentic Natural products (African cosmetic brands), a company she co-founded with her late husband. She appreciated the support from NASME and promised the fund will be used to boost her business.
The NASME International Women’s Day event is a true indication of women supporting women and we hope to see more collaborations and not competition among women in business in Africa.
NASME is the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses across all sectors of the economy, creating business opportunities as well as providing solutions to individual member’s challenges to ensure the success of every business venture in Nigeria. Their vision is to be the voice of Nigeria Entrepreneurs advocating for conducive environment while partnering with MSME promoters to ensure the emergence of large pool of viable technologically empowered MSMEs. NASME promotes the empowerment of Nigeria’s MSMEs as a means of achieving sustainable employment generation, economic growth and development in the country.
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More Picture from the event
L-R: Mrs. Esther Ebeh, Ms. Oyelola Fadaini, Yeye Dupe Dada, Mrs. Matilda Taiwo & Ms. Yinka
Watch the full event here on YouTube NASME IWD2021 EVENT
Women are Essential to Africa’s Recovery Plan
By Mark Elliott, Division President of Mastercard, Southern Africa
I was having an engaging Zoom chat about financial inclusion last week with a senior female executive when we were interrupted by her charming toddler who had other priorities. After some on-screen introductions and my poor attempt to entertain her child, she shared a personal reflection. Despite her partner being in an adjacent room, the little one tended to knock on her door frequently.
As we are now seeing in the data, the pandemic’s effect has added to the pressures experienced by women. Often women have had to pick up more household chores and childcare duties, and many have had to face unemployment as their jobs are 1.8x more vulnerable as they tend to work in sectors that are hardest hit by the economic downturn such as retail, restaurants etc. According to the UN Women, the pandemic risked turning back the clock on gender equality by 25 years.
But, if we collectively activate the power of women’s contribution in Africa, and encourage them to reach their potential, companies log increased performance, societies become more productive, and economies thrive. In fact, Africa could add $316 billion or 10% to GDP by 2025 if each country makes advances in women’s equality to match the country in the region that has achieved the most progress towards parity (McKinsey 2019).
Amidst recovery, we now have a chance to hit the reset button in all industries – across the board, and across boards. It is time to ask ourselves if we have the balance that Africa needs – and prepare to do what it takes to get there. It will require collective action from corporates, governments, NGOs and communities to make it happen. There is much work to do. Gender inequality in work and society loom large, and interventions are critical.
Opportunities to Advance Gender Equality
Unleashing potential and unblocking much needed growth can be actioned across three priority areas: youth, women entrepreneurs and women in the workplace.
1) Youth – Africa is home to 19 of 20 of the world’s youngest populations which should present a tailwind of productivity opportunity. However, with youth (15 – 24 years old) unemployment as high as 2% in countries like South Africa there is an urgent need to align academic and technical skills with employment realities. Encouraging girls to participate in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects is key to develop critical 21st century skills girls need for their studies and career success. Bringing more female youth into technology fields and achieving gender parity will only make companies stronger and products more relevant to women as customers.
2) Women entrepreneurs – According to the 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Africa has the world’s top three countries when it comes to women entrepreneurs (as a percentage): Uganda (39.6%), Botswana (38.5%) and Ghana (36.5%). Despite some positive trends, the report also notes the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs around the world, with 87% saying they have been adversely affected. Overrepresentation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.
Despite the obvious challenges, the report highlights a number of opportunities for women in the COVID-19 era, particularly in online shopping and digital commerce. As a non-exec board member of Junior Achievement South Africa – a non-profit organisation that is playing its part in preparing the youth for the 21st century through entrepreneurial training and financial literacy programmes – I have seen how versatile and resilient women entrepreneurs can be in the face of adversity. Shortly after the pandemic started, I had the chance to mentor a woman who pivoted her fashion business to produce face masks and set up an online store. Ensuring access to technology or digital solutions, affordable data and modern trade resources as well as business training will empower more women to succeed in business.
3) Women in the workplace – While Africa has above average board representation of women at 25% (McKinsey 2019) compared to the global average, it lags in executive committee positions and women coming into middle management positions. Gender equality in the workplace requires an adjustment by all of us if it is going to become a reality in the near term. At Mastercard, we have grown our female workforce across Africa by 370% over the last 5 years and across the Middle East and Africa, our team is 42% female. While there is still room for improvement, we have made meaningful interventions:
- We closed the gender pay gap to ensure that women earn $1 for every $1 earned by men.
- Recognising that women may take a professional step back if they have children, we introduced 16 weeks of paid parental leave for both men and women. Eighty percent of men from across the business take their paternity leave, helping us develop a sharing environment, redress the balance between maternity and paternity leave, while also ensuring that same-sex partners aren’t left behind.
- We have a dedicated Mastercard Women’s Leadership Network – a global network with local chapters in South Africa and Kenya that are tasked with developing and advancing women into leadership roles supported with training and mentorship opportunities.
- We have evolved the recruitment process, designing 50/50 gender slates for all roles. The best person will always get the job but the process has been redesigned for greater fairness and opportunity.
Companies must make gender equality a priority, commit to KPIs and measure there progress. Much acclaimed Jane Fraser shattered the glass ceiling a few weeks ago by becoming the first women to lead a major US bank as the new CEO of Citigroup – a ceiling that has already been shattered in Africa. This is a positive step, but we can agree there is much more to do beyond these first milestones.
As we position our businesses for recovery in a post Covid-19 world, we should be doing so with vision and goals for gender parity. We need to provide girls with access to education from an early age so that they can develop the skills needed to be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to provide better access to financial and digital tools, support women in starting and growing their businesses, and foster a workplace where all employees feel valued, respected and empowered to reach their greatest potential. By doing so, we can create a more equitable and prosperous future for us all.